Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)

History

Bharatiya Janata Party is one of the two major political parties in India. It was established in 1980. Its roots lie in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh; formed in 1951 by Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. For the 1977 general elections, the Jana Sangh merged with several parties to form the Janata Party to defeat the incumbent Congress party. Following Janata Party’s dissolution in 1980, the erstwhile Jana Sangh rechristened itself as the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The party under Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power from 1998 to 2004 under the umbrella National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition of several parties.  It was the first non-Congress government to last a full term in office.

Election Symbol

BJP-flag.svg

June ’13: BJP Took a Punt – Declared NaMo as Head of Election Campaign Committee

BJP gambled big time by declaring Narendra Modi (NaMo), three times Chief Minister of Gujarat, as its Chief Election Campaigner. It was feared that this move could increase infighting in BJP, alienate Muslim voters as well as some NDA partners. There was a lot of resistance and debate internally before appointing him (after all BJP is a democratic party).

The fears appeared to be true when sulken BJP patriarch Advani resigned (only to take it back in 48 hours) and long time ally JD(U) broke ties with BJP.

NaMo’s Elevation: Casualty No. 1 – Advani Resigns, Only to take it back in 48 hours

Advani (aged 84) sulked post NaMo’s anointment and resigned from all party posts. After 50+ years in party and himself being from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), he suddenly realized that BJP is being run by RSS and is also interfering in its day to day affairs. This he felt was not good.

In the last elections BJP projected Adavni as its PM candidate and lost. I think there was a need to give space to young blood. But I don’t blame him, he sees 2014 as his last chance of becoming PM, even Manmohan Singh (MMS) is aged 81 and is PM of a country whose 60% population is in the working age group (29-35).

He threw in the towel without fighting Rajnath-NaMo camp. Anything can happen after results are out and he may emerge as consensus candidate (possibility remote). Better sense prevailed and he took back his resignation. Ummeed pe duniya kayam hai.

NaMo’s Elevation: Casualty No. 2 – JD(U) breaks ties with BJP and commits Harakiri

JD(U), BJP’s long standing ally of 17 years, called an end to its alliance post NaMo’s anointment. Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav suddenly realized that BJP is not a secular but a communal party. They felt NaMo’s elevation would alienate its Muslim votebank.

However, the real reason is that with talks of emergence of a Third Front, Nitish and Sharad both feel that they can become PM. Nobody can stop them from day dreaming. My friends if Deve Gowda and Gujral could become PM why not Nitish / Sharad. Plus Nitish for some reason doesn’t like NaMo (perhaps jealousy).

Nitish and Sharad are worried about the 15% Muslim votes in Bihar. Is desh ka durbhagya hai ki koi 85% Hindu votes ke baare mein nahin sochta hai. They feel that they would get a major share of Muslim votes after the break up. They forget that this vote will be divided between JD(U), Congress and Lalu’s RJD. Plus they would also loose BJP votes. All in all a bad arithmetic. They are bound to lose seats I can bet.

Sharad as confused as ever, even declared post break up that they could rejoin NDA if Advani is made leader. Advani a secular and NaMo a communal? Did he forget that it was Advani whose Rath Yatra for Ram Mandir brought BJP into national arena. Pure excuses, as they don’t have any reason. Yeh to public hai yeh sab janti hai! People of Bihar will teach them a lesson.

If Nitish had any self respect he should have resigned as CM and gone for a fresh mandate. People of Bihar had voted for NDA and not JD(U) alone. He would not as he would want to have malai for another 2.5 years.

Prediction: If NaMo does well, JD(U) will split post 2014 national elections. Sharad has a soft corner for BJP and he is not getting any malai while Nitish is having it all alone. This will be one of the key reasons for a split. If NaMo does badly, state BJP will split.

Sep. ’13: BJP announced NaMo as its PM candidate

BJP announced NaMo as PM candidate in Sep. ’13. Feel the decision to nominate NaMo is a bold one, however it’s also true that BJP had no choice and he is party’s best bet. Its like putting your best batsman (Tendulkar) forward to open the innings when chasing a huge total. NaMo is party’s most popular leader, thanks to development work in Gujarat, a smart / effective PR campaign and has a strong appeal among urban voters and youth. However he lacks rural support. His support base predominantly being through social media. Majority people who vote are from lower strata of society and don’t have internet.

Rajnath Singh {a novice in national politics (comparatively) till now and a compromise candidate for BJP Party President}, with the help of RSS, saw an opportunity to emerge stronger within the ranks by taking sides with NaMo in the internal power struggle. Post NaMo anointment, Rajnath has grown in confidence (as evident from election meetings, press conferences, interviews) and has increased visibility.

NaMo has won the internal party struggle, however it is now time to perform. He will face opposition from Advani camp (Sushama Swaraj, Joshi, Ananth Kumar etc.) as also the Godhra riots will be in limelight once again. While he has charisma of a national leader and inspires party cadre / youth, his weakness is that he is CM of a small state (Gujarat sends only 26 MPs to Parliament, <5%).

This time could be different. He has successfully become CM 3rd time trouncing Congress, his visibility and confidence levels are high, his model of development is being talked about (nationally / internationally) and there’s a lot of hype / hysteria around him. He has the backing of RSS and BJP President. Dissidents will fall in line as elections get closer as everybody would like to be in his good books. Will he perform or not. Only time will tell.

Historical Performance of BJP in Lok Sabha (All India)

1952 1957 1962 1967 1971 1977 1980 1985 1989 1991 1996 1998 1999 2004 2009
Seats Won 3 4 14 35 22 0 0 2 85 120 161 182 182 138 116
% of All India Seats 0.6% 0.8% 2.8% 6.7% 4.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.4% 16.1% 22.1% 29.7% 33.5% 33.5% 25.4% 21.4%
No. of seats in UP 0 2 7 12 4 0 0 0 8 51 52 57 29 10 10

BJP shot into prominence in the late 1980s with the decline of Congress (after Indira’s death) and split in Janata Dal parivaar. The party bagged 85 seats in 1989 (up from 2 in 1985). The Ram Mandir movement has propelled party to the second largest party status in India. The party got the highest no. of seats in 1998-99 and formed govt. under the leadership of Vajpayee. Strong performance in Uttar Pradesh from 1991-1999 was responsible for its rise. Post 1999, its seats have declined in line with poor performance in UP due to lack of leadership (after Vajpayee’s retirement). Modi is expected to brideg this gap and party has to do really well in the state if it is form govt. at the center.

Possibilities in Lok Sabha

(i) Most surveys predict that BJP led NDA will emerge as the single largest formation and get 200-230 seats. Politicalbaaba projects 220 seats for NDA. BJP would get support from Andhra parties (TDP, Jagan), Mamata and form govt.

(ii) If the BJP gets anything less than 200, it might need support of Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Naveen etc. and they might not agree to Modi as PM. BJP could still form govt. but with someone else as PM. However, since NaMo would play a key role in getting these seats, PM candidate would be from his camp (Jaitley, Rajnath). Rajnath could get NaMo to support him in a quid pro quo deal. Sushma could emerge as a consensus candidate here.

(iii)BJP could get less than 200 seats but doesn’t agree to anybody else than Modi as PM. In this case a khichdi Third FRont govt. could be formed with outside support of Congress and BJP would sit in opposition.   NaMo could continue as CM of Gujarat or could resign as CM to take a national role to take a shot at next elections which would happen soon given the inherent contradictions of Third Front.

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